D.I.D. is the second album by Jim Konen (guitars) and Dick Metcalf (aka Rotcod Zzaj, who played Kurzweill PC 88 on this CD).
Konen is famous in his local zone (Detroit/Motown) for some masterful techno guitar playing that he performs as "VisionEar".
Metcalf has been recording and performing around the country (& the world) since about 1975.
I have removed these files from my archive; they are now available for sale, at
December 11, 2011
Ron Davies reviws DID
Albums like this are bound to cause headaches among the jazzerati. Performed by Jim Konen (who switches between synthesizer and guitar) and Dick Metcalf (keyboards), these eight tracks were improvised and recorded directly to disc. On tracks like the eight-minute "Sine", the result sounds like some of the more intense sections of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. On other pieces, such as "The Beat", the pair create funky guitar moments akin to John Scofield's work. What then, you ask, is the problem? The difficulty lies in the fact that the rhythm tracks are loops, and not the product of a living, breathing musician. The introduction of electronic instruments caused a fuss during the late '70s, with many critics claiming that such instruments relied more on technicians than technique. Clearly, this notion was dispelled, and electric groups like Medeski, Martin and Wood stand at the forefront of contemporary jazz.
Intuitive Tesseract, however, is something else. One of the defining themes of jazz is the interaction among the improvising players. While the original swing beat has been cast aside in favor of a more freeform palette, the central interplay between musicians has remained a constant. However, when the beat, long a key player in the construction of jazz tunes, loses the ability to respond to what goes on about it, is it still jazz? Whether or not the Duo sought to raise this question, this interesting album does exactly that.
While undisciplined moments such as "Inner Strength" lack sufficient impact to make the debate worthwhile, there are several strong tracks which readily foster further discussion. "The Fastrack" features manic piano a la McCoy Tyner's more far-out work, as well as a sparely-played trumpet that recalls Davis. Since trumpet is not listed in the liner notes, I assume that it is in fact synthesized, although most listeners wouldn't notice. In fact, given Davis' penchant for electronic experimentation, I imagine he would approve of this electric mimicry.
The disc's closer, "Rongnine", returns to the sharp guitar work of "The Beat" for a fast and furious workout. Numbers such as these can only fall under the heading of jazz; despite the automated rhythms, the interplay between Konen and Metcalf remains the focus of the music.
The album's most ambitious track is "Oasis", in which the pair uses their format to push the boundaries of the genre. This piece uses a syncopated, clearly synthesized rhythm -- the sort of thing you'd find on an Aphex Twin record -- as its basis. Over the top of this, they layer gentle synthesizer chords and a relaxed guitar line. Here, the duo breaks new ground by using the interesting textures made available by their computerized rhythm track. This enables them to claim their own territory rather than reinventing existing traditions, and I hope they explore such ideas further in future releases.
Is this jazz? It depends on who you ask. Is it interesting? On the whole, yes -- the Detroit Improv Duo have made a quite interesting disc.